The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked some innovation in testing, but not all that innovation has made it to market. Michael Mina, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, said on an Aug. 7 conference call that the U.S. FDA’s “archaic view” of testing is impeding the use of paper strip tests he said would turn the tide in the effort to contain the pandemic.
Real-world evidence (RWE) and clinical trial data might seem to bear little resemblance to each other, but Naomi Aronson, executive director for clinical evaluation at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, said there are problems common to both. The most significant of these is an absence of validated outcomes measures for many conditions, measures Aronson said are “desperately” needed in order to make an appropriate coverage determination.
Developers of tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus have gained a tremendous amount of experience in a very small amount of time, and of all the media for sampling, saliva offers the easiest route for test administration. The U.S. FDA’s Tim Stenzel said on the Aug. 5 testing town hall, however, that the FDA and developers have discovered that this is an extremely difficult medium to work with.
The Trump administration has issued an executive order designed to improve access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries in rural America, making permanent numerous changes that had been temporarily added for the COVID-19 pandemic. The news arrives as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted the draft Medicare physician fee schedule (MPFS) complete with expanded use of telehealth for a number of services.
Keeping you up to date on recent developments in oncology, including: Cancer follow-up plummeted in Wuhan after onset of COVID-19 pandemic; T-cell receptor sequencing proves useful for tracking thyroid cancer; Silver nanowires take their place in brain cancer therapy.
A number of entities have sounded off on the FDA’s discussion paper for artificial intelligence (AI), including several medical societies that would like to see autonomously operating algorithms subjected to more stringent review than supervised algorithms. Vibhor Rastogi, general partner at Symphony AI of Los Altos, Calif., told BioWorld that the company is on board with many of these concerns, adding that the FDA discussion paper does a “good job of balancing innovation and patient safety.”
The issue of the U.S. federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was revisited yet again in a hearing in the House of Representatives. While partisanship was on full display, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects for a vaccine and that the development of candidates has not compromised scientific principles.
The U.S. Senate Finance Committee met for a second time in three days to address the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the COVID-19 pandemic. While a witness said the Defense Production Act (DPA) is no panacea for production, one message emerging from the hearing is that producers need to hear from end users about demand just as much as users need to know about available inventories.
The U.S. FDA has nudged the emergency use authorization (EUA) program forward once again, this time with a template for applications for tests that can be performed entirely at home, in the office and at schools. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in an accompanying statement that tests of this sort “will be a game-changer in our fight against COVID-19 and will be crucial as the nation looks toward reopening.”
The U.S. government has charged two citizens of China with cybercrime in connection with purported hacking of research into vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but more than one speaker on a July 22 webinar said scientists involved in basic life science research at universities fail to appreciate the need for cybersecurity, a problem they may take with them to the private sector.